Thursday, October 29, 2015

Return to Autumn House - A Halloween Serial - Chapter Nine - Cate Nolan





    “Out of the car, both of you,” Cris barked as he turned off the ignition. “And don’t try any funny business. I’m the best shot on the Marshmallow Force. You don’t want to give me a reason to prove it.”

    Hallie inched her way across the seat. She could feel Kane close beside her. His breath was warm on her neck as he leaned in to whisper. “Remember, trust me. I won’t let you down this time.”

    This time. Was he admitting he’d let her down before? Was that regret she heard in his voice?

    Distracted, Hallie slid faster across the seat. She wanted to be out of this car. Her sweater snagged the phone and sent it skittering off the seat and along the stone driveway.

    No! Their only link to help and she’d lost it.

    Kane’s arm rested on her shoulder. “It’s okay,” he whispered. “I’ve got a plan.”

    He stumbled out of the car after her and fell to his knees on the crushed shell drive.

    “Help him walk,” Cris ordered Hallie. “We need to get inside and out of sight. Not that anyone is likely to see you in this fog.”

    Hallie’s hopes sagged. He was right. She could barely see the house through the dense fog. How  could help possibly find them? They were doomed.

    She helped Kane to his feet. He leaned heavily against her, as if for support, but… wait a minute… something felt off. Was he faking it? Was he in better shape than Cris realized?

    “Give me the key,” Cris demanded.

    The key. Who had it? Hallie wondered.  She’d only been reaching for it when Kane had grabbed her arm. Was it still under one of the rocks?

     “I don’t have a key.” Hallie looked from Kane to Cris and back again. Didn’t one of them have it?

    “Never mind,” Cris muttered. He grabbed a pumpkin from the stoop and smashed it through the stained glass window. Hallie felt the break as shards through her own heart. Her dear grandfather had crafted each of these windows, a talent he’d learned from his friend, Tiffany. And now this one lay in glittering shards.

    Cris didn't know it, but he had just given her a weapon.

    Kane sagged to his knees again and Hallie realized he’d had the same thought.  As she bent to help him to his feet, she saw him slide a long glass shard up his sleeve. He winked as she did the same. They’d always had such an understanding of each other - except when it had mattered most.

    Well, they were united now. Maybe this was a chance to start fresh, build a new life together. All they had to do was escape Cris.

“Move it.” Cris brandished his gun waving them through the grand entrance to Autumn House.

Emotion overwhelmed Hallie as she stepped through the doorway. It had been so long since she’d been here. Why hadn’t she come back to see Great Uncle Mac?  She hung her head in shame. She knew why. The dog wasn’t the only cowardly creature here. She hadn’t had the heart to come back and risk seeing Kane again. So instead, she’d abandoned the only member of her family who’d ever really cared for her. She didn’t deserve Autumn House.

“Quit the daydreaming and get on in there.” Cris pointed toward the cavernous living room.  

Hallie helped Kane into the room. Her gaze was drawn to the wall of windows overlooking the rocky cliffs.






    Her great uncle’s desk sat beside it and in his chair - the chair where he’d always sat to write his stories - was an urn clearly labeled Macintosh Appleton. 

    Was this someone’s sick idea of a joke?

    “Where is it?”

    Crispin’s demand brought her back to the present. Right. He and Kane were up to something. How could she have let old memories distract her?

    “In the desk,” Kane muttered.  “Come here. You’re going to have to help me.”

    Cris followed Kane over to the desk. His eyes were glowing with greed like an evil jack-o-lantern.

    Kane bent over the desk, but slowly stood up. “You’re going to have to do it. I’m too dizzy.”

    “Do what?”

    “Unlock the combination. Down there. The bottom drawer. It’s a safe.”

    Kane eased back against the chair and let Cris kneel before the safe. “20 - 35 -left to 16…

    Whack!

    Kane had brought the urn down across Crispin’s shoulders knocking him unconscious. The urn burst open and ashes flew everywhere.

    Hallie screamed. “Great Uncle Mac!”

    The ashes mixed with tears running down her cheeks. One rivulet ran along her mouth and she swiped at it with her sleeve, but not before tasting the liquid. It was like hot chocolate that had been left to sit too long.

    The urn had been filled with … cocoa powder?

     Horror etched Hallie’s face as she tried to make sense of it all. If this was cocoa powder and not Mac’s ashes, where was Mac?

    Just then she heard a creak upstairs and a long, low moan. “Is Mac really alive?”

    She hadn’t even realized she’d whispered the words until Kane nodded. He lowered his voice to a whisper.  

“That’s what—

   
    His words cut off as he noted the look of betrayal in her eyes.

    “You knew? You let me think Great Uncle Mac was dead? What kind of horrible man are you, Kane Cornelison?

8 comments:

  1. A horrible man who wants you to come back, Hallie.
    Even though I understand how Hallie feels, but she should have given him chance to explain before jumping to conclusion. He's only trying to protect her.

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  2. I think Kane is going to save the night. And the day. And the woman. And the chocolate :))))

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  3. Loving these twists and turns!! And I'm still howling with laughter over Cris saying he's the best shot on the Marshmallow force. Somehow "marshmallow" takes the oomph out of the threat, and that's perfect right about now when the HEA end is drawing near.

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  4. And Macintosh Appleton! Love, love, love the names in this story.

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  5. Save the chocolate! Haha This is fun - Love the pictures

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  6. Oh, I had so much fun writing the next portion thanks to all the twists and turns. This is great fun.

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  7. Can't wait to see what you do with it, Pamela.

    Evelyn, you made me laugh. I always want to write the happily ever after as the whole story, but editors want conflict so I had to make poor Kane suffer a bit.

    I hope you're right, Lenora.

    The names are great, Christine. I did type Crisp once for poor Cris and wondered if I should leave it that way.

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  8. All this food talk is making me hungry n the wise cracks flying though my mind, like is uncle mac the real beef, how does the marshmallow force cope under fire or do they go crackers...

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